Category Archives: Only child

Only Child can’t wait for spring weather

From my front veranda March 2018

When I was a child my dad shovelled the snow. We never had eaves trough problems, freezing ice on the ground (except for the skating rink my dad made in the backyard). Perhaps a few icicles. But that was the extent of our winter weather. No worries and none of the rigamarole I have to go through with when it snows more than a few centimetres. I’ve had to get heat cables on the roof and into and outside the downspouts tand downspout extensions  – the latter several revisions by  my handyman until something (hopefully) worked. He also had to extend the downspouts on both ends in the backyard way out, placing them on top of bins. So getting onto the patio, etc. is a winding exercise. Plus I have to calculate when to turn on the heat cables, and roof and downspouts ones can’t be on at the same time or it will shut that circuit off. I’m forever looking up a tthe roof to see the level of snow still there, salting parts of the driveway, veranda, etc. The list is endless and so is my time wasted. I do have someone hired to shovel the snow. All this costs money, my money. No wonder as the month gets closer to the end, I have, as they say, more month than moneyals

It it isn’t house-related, it is health-related that steals my money.

So, while the above photo may look bleak except for the sky, I prefer the dry no snow on the ground to snow. It has been dry on the ground in Toronto for a few weeks. Sure there have been traces of rain and a few snow flakes, but they are not staying on the ground. So it looks dismal, but hey, not snow or ice – at this point.

Spring arrived today (12.15 p.m. noon with the Equinox) according to the calendar. The meteorologists’ predictions call for more snow and rain  as we get into April. Some rain I can handle (as long as it doesn’t get into my house. The gardens need the rain. And I need my gardens  0utside – soon.

Meantime, I’ve finally planned my outdoor garden, sent in my seed order to the seed catalogue company, bought a few heirloom seeds at a garden show (indoors) at the Toronto Botainical Gardens last month, attended Canada Blooms, and in the food department bave some basil varieties just starting to grow in a sunny window, am growing potato plant indoors (I get a few potatoes, albeit small), and one of the three rosemary plants I brought in last fall  is still doing well (so far). Plus tending my other indoor plants such as coleus, palm, various Spring cactus and the one begonia that has survived (so far) being brought indoors last fall. Some of these latter two are starting to bloom.

And I’m taking photographs of the dead gardens, live ones indoors (like at Canada Blooms) and looking at last year’s garden photos. Here’s one below.

How do you survive winter?



Only Child Writes


Sharon’s Day Lily summer 2017






Leave a comment

Filed under Dad, Only child, Snow, Uncategorized, Winter blahs

Only Child absorbs Canada Blooms

Only Child in shadow in the Japanese Garden at Canada Blooms

Saturday my friend Carol and I headed for Canada Blooms, the largest Canadian garden show held in March every year. I’ve been going for almost 20 years so have seen the changes including in location. I still like the original location best – the Metro Convention Centre in downtown Toronto – on two floors – lots of halls with exhibits, a large roomful of  plants and garden related products. I still remember one year when I went with another friend and she brought four of her friends too. So, in the market room, there were six of us wandering around and getting separated from each other constantly. I kept thinking of those mittens  with the yarn joining them so you could thread it inside your coat for a mitten to come outside each sleeve. Mothers, including my Mom, used to knit them. For Canada Blooms, the yarn would need to be extended to join all six of us, so we would stay together

The past four or five years it has  been held in the Enercare Centre located in the CNE grounds – still downtown by Lake Ontario but a little to the west. Here, the CB location is one room only for exhibits – much smaller and in places dark, plus a small brighter room with garden stuff for sale. The first year I complained in an email to the organizers about that dark room and the almost inaccessible area for a speaker in a wheelchair . The latter was fixed but the lighting, while improving in some areas is still dark. The marketplace is still small but has expanded into the main area. But this main area is all the National Home Show and it is daunting to try to get through it all. Carol and I decided to avoid looking around there except for the Kitchen Stuff shopping and a booth selling really good cookies – a small enterprise. We both bought some packages of cookies – gluten-free. Unfortunately, to get where we wanted to go and to even find it required going through the National Home Show area. The two are now together and you can get in to the two for the price of one. Still I prefer when they were separate and Canada Blooms was at the Metro Convention Centre.

Tree of Roses at entrance to Canada Blooms Marketplace

Still CB was better this year in other places despite some dark areas in the bigger room. The speaker on fusion garden was excellent but we didn’t like the backless wooden benches we sat on for the talk. Carol’s neck got sore from it and my feet couldn’t reach the floor. Canada Blooms was also a welcome break from all the snafus and problems I’m still dealing with. That ugly nasty-looking guy may well be back here in next week’s post.

But neither of us could find a plant we wanted to buy. So no plants bought at Canada Blooms. First time for me. Next day I bought a hyacinth at my local garden centre/florist to make up for it.

Meantime , below are a few more shots I took of a fraction of the exhibits at Canada Blooms.

Wooden frog at Canada Blooms


Backyard Garden at Canada Blooms



Only Child Writes


Filed under Garden, Only child, Roses

Only Child on why so angry – sometimes

This scary miserable little person is making another appearance this week because the snafus coming from others continue to happen, leaving me to deal with the aftermath.  People ask me why I am so angry? This is why and I’m going on the record that I am not angry all the time, but would like less cause to be angry so I’m angry just a minuscule part of my time.

Since last week the following has happened – so far. If some sound weird, they are all true. As a former journalist, I still try to stick to the truth, although the telling is “as I see it” as a late Toronto radio personality used to say.

Here we go:

1. My current phone and Internet bill which I get mailed (yes, regular mail) to me, didn’t arrive. Fortunately I also have online access to my bills so could check it so I can pay it. But I still decided to phone Bell Canada to find out what was going on. They did send it out. So, it could be Canada Post messing up. I’ve had mail addressed properly to me go elsewhere, including to someone also in Toronto with the same address except the extension (road, street) is different than mine. I also get his mail occasionally. If the postal carrier dropped it in the wrong mail box in my neighbourhood, unless the person knows me they might just have dumped it back in the mail.  From experience, I know that can take weeks for it to be re-delivered to the correct address. The Bell customer service rep checked to make sure there was no funny business going on with my account – he couldn’t find any. When I asked if there was any discounts offered for seniors, he went into a long explanation about a new way to get Internet which I’m not interested in at this point. So I told him. So far I was polite but when he started pitching this service again, I gritted my teeth and said I just told you I don’t want it and thanked him for checking on the other and the conversation was ended.

But he never said he would get my bill resent, although future bills will also still be sent by regular mail – as long as Bell and/or Canada Post don’t screw up.

And if you think I’m being a Luddite here, I have good reason. A few years ago I changed my method of receipt for my heating bill and the Gas company screwed it up – mixing it up with that guy at the similar address and closing my account. Somebody got you know what from me, but it was fixed. And I returned to bills by regular mail.

2. This is the one that really upsets. me because it hits at my book Beyond Faith and book sales. Beyond Faith is available in print and e-copy to order online at the usual suspects – Amazon, Barnes and Nobel – but in Canada also through Chapters Indigo – the big bookstore chain here. The book can be ordered online at their sitet and usually the print version can be ordered through the bricks and mortar stores – from the actual stores. Well, there is a note under available online that says “unavailable in stores” which is not the package my publisher has with the distributor, Ingram. I found this out  (I had thought it meant there were no copies in the stores yet) on Saturday when I visited one of the book chains small Coles stores. The manager was very enthusiastic about getting copies of both Beyond Blood and Beyond Faith and having me do a book signing in the store one Saturday afternoon. While I was there, she went into the system to order the books – no problem with Beyond Blood, but she couldn’t order Beyond Faith. She said to contact my publisher and when it was fixed she would be happy to order in copies and have me do a book signing session.

I emailed my publisher as soon as I got home, explaining the situation and also that small independent bookstores have ordered the book in at my request and it is in the store (I checked in person). He got on it right away – said it was probably a glitch when Ingram, the distributor put it into Indigo-Chapters online. The publisher got on it right away, emailing Ingraham and re-iterating the contract contents he has with them and asked them to fix it. He ccd me.

That was three days ago. I checked BF on Indigo-chapters website. Still saying not available in stores. It better get fixed this week because April 18 I’m supposed to be part of a Crime Writers’ Canada presentation at one of the mid-town bigger Indigo bookstores and they need to order in copies of Beyond Faith for that.

And I still haven’t received my corrected CARP membership card as mentioned in last week’s post.  The old one expired February 28 and it’s March and I can’t get my benefits. I decided to go above customer ?service? – yes there are names for all the board, including Director of Communicaitons, but no email address.

With this widespread seemingly endless list of sanfus, i can’t help wondering if someone out there or up there (word beginning with “G”) has something to do with it. Call me crazy, but i don’t think it’s in the water, as the saying goes.

No wonder I get angry sometimes. I think I have the right to feel this way. At least it get me going to get it fixed.

What is the most recent snafu you have had to deal with? Or are you lucky and get little or none?



Only Child Writes

Beyond Faith book cover


Leave a comment

Filed under Beyond Faith, Books, Life demands, Only child, Utiiities

Only Child on people’s stupidity wasting my time

Your customer service rep today

Lately I’ve been getting up feeling that there isn’t too much to look forward to for the day – or I have one or more nagging problem to face. Even today, on an untypical winter’s day. Sun is shining and it going to be warm – 54 F on the old scale.

I’m feeling better now and I think it is because I’ve been busy tackling my time and getting back on track with starting my workday on time. I also re-recorded my voice mail message – much shorter and to the point – starting with if this call is personal, please call… and I state when – not during my business hours. I also mention when I will take calls for writing and editing. And I finish with “Or leave a brief message. Thank you.” Emphasis on the “brief”.  I don’t want your life story as some do. Now, with long messages, I will delete them once the life story finishes, that is.

I also thought a brief summary of some of the ridiculous problems I’ve been dealing with the past month – at least 90 per cent caused by “outside”, i.e. I didn’t cause them; they were caused by big business, government, other people, etc. But I’m stuck with fixing the problem. So, here is a short summary of the most ridiculous. People can be so stupid. WARNING: I name some names.

1. I belong to CARP – the Canadian Association for Retired Persons (a misnomer as members can be anywhere over 45 and many of us are not retired). But they are good with advocating for our rights as older people, especially to  government, plus you get deals with things like insurance and pharmacies and they publish the Zoomer magazine. But apparently their in-house administration needs some fixing. My membership runs out the end of February according to my membership card. For the first time I did not receive a renewal notice (I’ve been a member for more years than I can remember) so I phoned earlier this month. My “new” card arrived a week ago – dated February 2018. What’s wrong with this picture? i phoned and complained and asked for a correct new card to be sent to arrive by the end of the month, send it priority post if necessary and that because they screwed up I deserve that – this latter after they said it takes two to three week to send it out. Well, they didn’t listen -priority post would have gotten it here before now, which is one week later.

2. Empire Life Insurance Company which has had my life insurance policy for years and increases the payments every year, but never tells me ahead of time or how much. Just sends me “threatening” letters six months or so before the fiscal year is  up or after, stating that my policy will  be cancelled if I don’t pay X$ right now. I have repeatedly phoned them on this, stating I have no problem paying any quarterly increase that starts with each new fiscal year – but they have to let me know what the quarterly increase is. This year I did the math on the amount they say I owed until August 1 (fiscal year end/start) and it works out to the two quarterly payments I still owe when I am billed for each quarterly. I was just going to pay the current quarterly when the annual nasty letter arrived. This time I think I got someone who has some idea what she is doing and she said she would put a note in my file that I requested receiving notice of the actual quarterly increase a month before the fiscal year end/beginning and to just mail in the actual quarterly payment due now and the next one in May. Which I did for the quarterly then due. And I have complained about Empire Life to the Insurance Bureau of Canada and they said they don’t cover life insurance – just car and property insurance companies. I have also looked into getting life insurance elsewhere but have been warned to be careful here. Maybe I’ll go to CARP again on it and see what they have to say. Oh! When I get my new correct membership card.

3. I wasted last Thursday morning on the phone with Dell Canada trying to extend the service warranty on my leased desktop PC for another year. I might have been asking for them to deliver the sun and the moon. Except for instructing me how to do a check on the hardware in the computer to make sure it was all working (it was 100 per cent), the customer service rep in the finance department I got didn’t know what to do (she kept putting me on hold to check with her supervisor) and I had to repeat several times what I wanted and how I was going to pay for it. She finally gave me a quote and transferred me to someone else to take my payment info. Then back to her and after waiting some time she told me that there was a problem processing it but it wasn’t my card – it was Dell but she worded it like the problem was connected to me paying with a card. After being put on hold for more time, I hung up and tried to call back (to get somebody else) at the number she gave me. I got the usual Dell runaround from operator to operator to wrong country to wrong department until I landed back at the original place – but with la different rep who knew what she was doing. She got me a quote and it turns out the first rep had quoted higher because she had included a laser printer. Huh? I don’t have a Dell printer and that was never discussed with rep No. 1. This rep No. 1 had emailed me a “how am I doing?” email – twice – while we were still talking and there was a link to her supervisor. So I emailed him to complain. Got a quick reply and he wins the prize for stupidest person on the earth. He said the first rep. did it right, there was a “tool” causing the processing my order problem (Tool? We weren’t gardening or doing house repairs here? Did he mean software?). His grammar and spelling were atrocious for a supervisor. And he didn’t even apologize. But I may have gotten my just desserts in all of this, though – when I filled in the survey form that came in yesterday.

The list goes on. But that’s enough. People can be so inconsiderate and stupid.

So, I’m looking out the window at the sun shining and hoping I can go for a walk at lunchtime.

What is one stupid problem caused by someone else you had to deal with? And how did you deal with it?



Only Child Writes

Something to look forward to in a few months



Filed under Complaining tactics, Consumer action, Insurance, Only child, Problems, Seniors, Snafus, Zoomers

Only Child needs a time management boost

Only Child and her Dad on the veranda of house where she grew up.

My late father used to sit at the kitchen table and re-set his watch based on the wall clock above the table. At dinner time. It annoyed my mom no end. But Dad was timekeeper for CN Railways (then CNR), so what did Mom or I expect?

I’ve inherited Dad’s penchant for keeping track of time and the related getting things done. Dad may have been better at it than me, and I don’t think it has anything to do with keeping the watch regulated – at least for me.

Despite going through the annual goals, etc. list (including purging unnecessary tasks, etc.), I am still in a big stage of overwhelm and spending too much time doing what isn’t a priority for me. Lots more has to be deleted from what I do and lots more has to be shoved onto the back burner, some maybe indefinitely and then eventually scrapped when I can stop holding onto them and let them go.

And letting go of the guilt that goes with dumping things you do, and even people, from your life. The latter sounds harsh, but I have had to evaluate who in my life I need to well, dump. This includes the obvious people I don’t like and/or we have nothing in common.

But I also have to consider where our values don’t jive. For example, being a responsible person and keeping promises is very important to me. So is being decisive. Here, I’m talking about something as simple as two friends deciding to meet at a specific event at a specific time, and one waffles either about if she will get there as she has so much else to do – or promising she will meet there and then she never shows up and I don’t get a phone call about it.

This the modus operandi of one of my so-called friends. There was even another friend involved for one event. Friend No. 2 and I were to meet the irresponsible one at at the annual Zoomer’s Show. The two of us waited and waited outside the show area for ages and guess who never showed up. At least we were waiting inside.

Let’s face it – stuff happens beyond our control. High on the list are getting sick and bad weather. But these are exceptions.

Also on my list is something that is harder to deal with but is a big time waster – problems that come from outside me and yes,  outside my friends and my relationship. Problems from utilities, governments and insurance companies. In most cases, they have caused the problem but I’m stuck with trying to get it straightened out. I can’t exactly cancel using the utility, or not pay my taxes, etc. Unfortunately, these things take time, my time.

And I resent it.

So, I’m going through my goals and the like again and weeding out more.

My health depends on it.

And dealing with health issues is another time-waster. However,  I have taken the recourse of doing what I have to do for my health – but if it is beyond what normal healthy people do for their health, then I do it when it is convenient for me. At least that’s what I’ve been trying out the past few months. Yes, sometimes I forget the damn eye drops, but you know, if it was safe to put one type of eye drop (three prescriptions although two are together), right after the other instead of waiting five or 10 minutes for the second drop, it would help. I don’t have time to stand around for five or ten minutes, so I go on to something else.

Then, forgot to put in the damn eye drops.

And don’t get me into wasting a half day at the ophthalmologist’s – two and a half hours minimum  in the waiting room. I have politely spoken to her about it, even suggested she hire another ophthalmologist, but that didn’t sit too well with her.

Do any of you have any ideas on time management? How do you manage your time in your daily living?



Only Child Writes



Filed under Family and Friends, Health, Life Balance, Life demands, Only child, Prioritizing, Time management, Uncategorized

Only Child on problems and anxiety

Pondering problem solving

A couple of weeks ago I had a fast lesson in something I believe in. It is something a bit off kilter from the usual psychological thinking about anxiety and problems. A lot of the thinking is on getting the anxious person to calm down, meditating, etc.

Well, folks that never worked with me because that doesn’t make the problem go away  or solve it. And I have almost a lifetime experience of being anxious and worrying. I come from it honestly – both my parents (my mother, in particular, were worry warts. Mom, could have won a prize as Biggest Worry Wart). So, maybe it is in the genes.

First, a disclaimer here – if the above don’t count as disclaimers – I am one of many people who have too many problems to deal with – often at once, at minimum one right after the other.

So, my lesson.

It really was something stupid. As often happens for whatever reason – health issues getting in the way again, too many things to do – I was running late to get out of the house and get to something very important – a TV taping for my latest book Beyond Faith on the Liquid Lunch at I am known for being really early or somewhat late, but this time I wanted to be a bit early.

After piling on all the winter outer clothing (another reason to hate winter), I raced outside. I had checked online for bus times, but of course, I got a later bus – but didn’t have to wait long for it. On the bus, I was practically having a panic attack, demanding that I get there on time to you-know-who.

For some reason I looked at my watch and had to look again.

According to my watch I was one hour early. I had to check the watch several times to make sure it was running. The second hand was going around at its usual speed, so the watch was working.

That was confirmed by the digital time at the subway station when the bus arrived there and I went down to the platform.

Somehow, while on the computer doing work before leaving I had misread the time on the computer.

Thank you, God, I said in my head.

And the worry, the anxiety suddenly left me and I felt calm and relieved and I had extra time, so stopped in a shop to get something I was going to get afterwards and did a bit of walking. I arrived about 20 minutes early – plenty of time to chat with the producer and sign the form and get inside the actual studio for the taping.

And I didn’t meditate or do any calming exercises. The problem disappeared and that was that. Not that all problems will disappear this easily. Many require a lot of work. But I still believe solving the problems is better medicine than meditation, etc.

Now, I have to apply my beliefs with two problems I now have – the guy I was paying to shovel my snow  didn’t show up this morning to shovel yesterday afternoon’s/evening’s and overnight’s snow – just under 10 cm. And of course with my precarious health, I am having more respiratory-virus related problems.

So, I will have to shovel the snow, which is not good for my health. Also I am a senior, so add that to health issues.  I may do some shoveling today and some tomorrow.

As for that snow shovellng guy – unless he is sick or his kid is sick, he will get the “gift of my wrath.” Those who follow this blog know I tend to treat people as they treat me – good and bad.

And that interview about my book? Here’s the link to where posted it to You Tube. It is also archived on their website.

Meantime I’ll be doing this.

And this is how I feel about it all.



Only Child Writes



Filed under Actions Consequences, Anxiety, Health, Health Seniors, Life demands, Meditation, Mom and Dad, Only child, Problems, snow shovelling

Only Child weighs in on Toronto’s plans to mitigate extreme weather

Rooftop Garden Ryerson University Toronto. Sharon A. Crawford photo

Continuing on from last week’s post on extreme weather and the devastation it causes, some places are actually doing something. The City of Toronto, for example is tackling the flooding issue by upgrading its storm and sewer systems in the older parts of Toronto. I live in one of them and because a previous council and Mayor screwed up back in 2000, with the sewers in my area (they put in the wrong type that apparently don’t do the job), it all has to be done again. My area is scheduled to have the streets, etc. dug up in 2020 or 2021. Because of the mess and more than inconvenience to me and the others in my neighbourhood with that fiasco, I am on watch and warning and have let my councillor know and why.

But the city councillors may have learned some lessons in that all upgrades will be done with other repairs, upgrades in the area at the same time, finishing up one area with all – sewers, street lights, intersections, streetscapes on the main street-  before going to the next. And we will have contact people and their info to nail if things go wrong. They are also going to make sure we know where to put our garbage and recycling during that time as that was one of the big complaints in 2000.

Logistics covered, what exactly is the point of the new storm sewers as far as basement flooding is concerned? I know from experience that not all basement flooding is caused by sewer systems that can’t hold all the excess rainfall water. My situation of basement flooding has a lot to do with foundation cracks, most of which are the fault of that jerk contractor Nigel Applewaite who didn’t do the water proofing correctly – he didn’t dig down far enough and when I called him on it, blamed it on drains and said to get the drains checked by the City. I did – twice – no problem then.

But, old storm sewers, catch basins and the like can factor in. I just have to look on my street and neighbouring streets to see how few catch basins there are and how the water puddles on the street. And why do I have two catch basins close together on my street when the others basins are so far apart? For those  more information on how storm sewers and the like operate go here.  As all this takes time, let’s hope it isn’t too little too late.

The other thing the City of Toronto has been doing  since 2010 requires new buildings of a certain height (and other criteria) to build a roof garden – this one is mainly to create more diversity, but also to help offset one aspect of global warming – help keep roofs and inside cooler on those extreme hot and humid summer days. Vegetation will do that. In fact Toronto has been touted as being the North American city with the most green roof space.

Then there is  global warming and one other thing cities seem to have way too much of – concrete. Concrete does not absorb water from rainstorms. Maybe the city should also consider getting rid of a lot of the concrete on the ground and putting in grass or gardens. Actually, there is some progress here. My area’s sewer replacement program includes putting in a water garden in the middle of one of the residential roads. Maybe we need more of that. And downtown open areas are being made into parks. Which is all good.

Here are some links to roof and other gardens.

Twelve of Toronto’s Roof Gardens

Toronto Botanical Gardens

High Park Garden in Toronto

Meantime, the extreme weather keeps barrelling in everywhere in the world. No place is safe anymore to live. God doesn’t seem to be doing much, if anything,  to help so we have to try to fix it ourselves.

I can’t put in a roof garden – even if I could afford it. My roof slants. But I have over the years planted perennial, herb and vegetable gardens in the ground – front and back of the house. I’ve had my downspouts disconnected and had extensions put on them, and have heat cables on the roof to try to melt snow and prevent it from changing to ice and ending up with ice jams, which when melting can end up in the basement. And letting others know who not to hire to water proof their basements.

What are you doing to offset global warming and the like?



Only Child Writes

Rooftop Garden Ryerson University up close. Sharon A. Crawford photo





Leave a comment

Filed under Basement Flooding, Gardens, Global Warming, Only child